Breaking the Rules

by Sara on February 1, 2012

Happy middle-of-the week!

When I started Body For Life two weeks ago, I made a commitment.

A commitment to nourish my body with clean, wholesome meals.

And oh baby, I’ve been eatin’ good.

Healthy treats like homemade Banana Muffin Tops have made regular appearances in the morning

Topped with peanut butter and Greek yogurt

(Recipe coming soon!)

I’ve been snacking on Cinnamon Streusel Protein Cake

…and digging into Healthified Chili Dip (make this for dinner TONIGHT!)

In other words, I’ve been finding fun ways to play by the Body For Life eating rules.

But the truth is, I’ve been playing by the rules a little too well.

Here’s proof: Over the weekend, I skipped out on frozen yogurt because I didn’t think it would bode well for my meal plan.


I turned my back on one of the loves of my life.

The thought process went like this: Chasing a somewhat indulgent dinner with sugary carbs might tip me too far from the 40-40-20 carb-protein-fat ratio I’ve been aiming for.

I didn’t want to break the rules.

But saying no to fro yo seriously made me sad! After wallowing in despair for a few hours, I realized that sometimes it’s necessary to break the rules.

Breaking the rules keeps me in check.

Breaking the rules prevents me from becoming obsessive.

And gosh darnit, breaking the rules is fun! Life is too short to deprive yourself of something you enjoy. Moderation means saying “yes” just as much as it means saying “no.”

I know there are many athletes and bodybuilders out there who don’t believe in “cheating.” Even Jamie Eason, one of my favorite fitness gurus, admits she rarely indulges in sweets.

And I completely understand the logic: Our bodies don’t need chocolate chip cookies; our bones much prefer Greek yogurt over ice cream; our hearts beat stronger for oats than they do for croissants.

For those who adhere to a strict diet regimen 100% of the time, kudos! I truly admire your dedication! Really.

But I’ve realized that even though my body doesn’t need frozen yogurt, my SOUL most certainly does.

And my soul sings a jubilant song when I allow myself to truly enjoy a treat like this.

mini chocolate cheesecake and mini cannoli (gluten free, too!)

Nothing low fat, low carb or high protein about it! Just pure, delicious bliss. :-) And definitely more knock-your-socks-off-good than that frozen yogurt I missed out on. 😉

But just because I played ball with a decadent dessert last night, didn’t mean I wasn’t ready to jump back on the health train this morning!

Nutritious breakfast? Check!

Upper body workout? Check!

This has become my favorite go-to workout on Body For Life. However, it may actually be my last BFL-style workout for a few weeks. I’m not abandoning the plan, just revising it. I recently had a heart-to-heart with a trainer at my gym, and he told me that  total-body workouts may not be the best approach for gaining significant muscle mass. Instead, he advised me to focus on isolation training; that is, training one or two muscle groups at a time instead of five or six. I’m thinking about trying Live Fit Trainer, and incorporating a little cardio into the routine. (For those of you that have done, or are doing Live Fit Trainer, please share your thoughts about the program!)

Once I was home, it was time to refuel.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Protein Pudding

It tasted like a decadent dessert, but in reality it only felt like I was breaking the rules. 😉


Top Ten Desserts in America

I fully intended on ending this post on that note, but as I was typing the word cheesecake, I suddenly remembered an article I saw online a few weeks ago: The 10 Most Popular Desserts in America.

Here they are, according to TLC (whose sources are most certainly 100% credible 😉 )

10. Cheesecake

9. Cupcakes

8. Jello

7. Carrot Cake

6. Apple Pie

5. Ice Cream

4. Brownies

3. Chocolate Chip Cookies

2. Chocolate Cake

1. Fudge

How on earth Jello beat cheesecake and cupcakes is beyond me! And fudge is #1?! 😉

What’s your favorite healthy or “healthified” dessert?

See the last picture in this post for mine!

Favorite dessert of all time? (I mean the real deal). Is something on the above list missing?

This is a tough one! But I’m going to have to roll with cheesecake or peanut butter pie.

What, if any, are your diet rules? Do you have “cheat meals” or do you treat yourself every day?


  • Kristin @ STUFTmama

    SO much to love in this post! You had me at those healthy banana muffin tops, and captured my heart with that chili dip! Can I take one of everything, including the cannoli and cheesecake? YUM!

    Great discussion about cheating and moderation. I go back and forth on my thoughts about this. Like you said, I don’t think our bodies need “junk” food (aka sweets), but I also don’t think that there’s really anything wrong with enjoying something that’s nutritionally lacking once in a while, especially if it makes us happy! Life really is too short to obsess about such things all the time. And isn’t part of health and longevity related to happiness?

    Ice cream makes me happy, so I’m going to eat it! I’m surprised by fudge being #1…I would have guessed chocolate chip cookies or brownies would be in first place! xo

    • Sara Stewart

      Come on over, and we can enjoy one of everything over a cup of coffee!

      I agree about the fudge! However it’s been YEARS since I’ve had a piece, so maybe I’m missing out…maybe it truly is the BEST dessert in America! 😉

  • Natalie @ Cinnamon Bums

    Everything looks SO good!! I definitely “cheat”–every day! Haha. I can’t get through the day without chocolate and/or a few bites of ice cream. But I figure it’s better than going overboard and binging on the weekends (like I used to). :)

    Love the dessert list! Jello was actually my favorite dessert when I was little, but now it’s definitely creme brûlée. I think that should be on the list ((even though it’s technically French!).

    • Sara Stewart

      Agreed–creme brulee definitely deserves to be on the list!

  • Julie

    Please come over and cook for me, Sara! If I ate as well as you, I’d be able to knock out a killer workout like the one in the post every day! :) As far as cheating goes…I definitely do it! Probably too much. But I like what you say: “moderation means saying ‘yes’ just as much as it means saying ‘no.'” You speak truth, woman! Oh, and my favorite healthified dessert is probably Greek yogurt mixed with peanut butter and chocolate chips. Favorite real dessert? Coconut cake!

  • Ash@MyFoodNFitnessDiaries

    oh man, i can’t wait to see the recipe for those homemade banana muffin tops! they look delicious!!!

    i’m all about “breaking the rules” sometimes… like you said, it’s good for the soul. however, sticking to the rules practices good self control and commitment too. it’s all about balance! 😉 i usually have one “indulgent” dessert a week, and satisfy my sweet tooth almost every day with more of a “healthified” treat. my favorite indulgent desserts would have to be homemade right-out-of-the-oven brownies or a chocolate chip pizookie with ice cream. fro yo is up there too. for a “healthified” dessert, i like greek yogurt w/ some choc chips thrown in, a piece of dark chocolate, or a scoop of light ice cream.

    • Sara Stewart

      I still need to try your pizookie!! That is definitely happening this week!

  • Kathryn @ Flopoodle

    Your food is always so decadent looking, yet healthy! I can’t wait for the muffin top recipe! And I am in total agreement with you about needing to keep your SOUL happy as well as your body. If you’re sad, your body won’t be happy anyway :)

  • Sally

    I agree…how on earth did Jello beat out cheesecake? No way! Nor do I agree with fudge as #1. Good luck as you change up your plan!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats

    how is fudge #1??? Lol. And I completely agree about treats being good for your soul. I try and go without them and then end up feeling so sad and deprived that I’ll binge. It’s better to allow yourself treats and not beat yourself up for it. Life is too short and it’s not about having the perfect body, it’s about being healthy and happy.

    • Sara Stewart

      So true! When I’m debating whether or not to have a treat, I remind myself of two things: a) the treat isn’t going to change my body one bit and b) even if it did, it doesn’t really matter! There is so much more to life than having a magazine-ready physique!

  • Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola

    Oh my gosh, cannot wait for the muffin top recipe! Those sound fab! And I agree with you 100% on this post– breaking the rules is necessary and part of moderation. Having things because you want them not because you should or shouldn’t have them leads to a much freer feeling when it comes to eating and let’s face it, makes it fun! My favorite healthified dessert is probably anything CCK makes- especially her 1-min chocolate cake, yum! And I can’t believe that list, who even eats jello?! Let alone ranks it above cupcakes? Blasphemy! 😉

    • Sara Stewart

      Total blasphemy! ;-p Please tell me more about this CCK 1-minute chocolate cake!

  • Anna

    I love protein cakes and made one last night for “dessert”…my favorite dessert of all time? Too many to list! Either a brownie sundae or carrot cake cupcake. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately too about ‘cheat’ meals and treating myself..I do love protein smoothies and cakes so they are like daily treats! I’ve been following LiveFit and have kind of had a few ‘cheat’ meals but then I think about all the hard work and don’t really want to blow it all out of the water. I seem to practice more in a happy medium to keep flexibility in my diet but then definitely have some more ‘splurge’ meals!

    • Sara Stewart

      Protein cakes are a fab healthified dessert! I love topping mine with peanut butter!

      I agree with you about not wanting to “blow it all out of the water” in regards to the hard work and effort put in at the gym. Finding that happy balance can be challenging!

  • Anna

    Oh and can’t wait for the homemade Banana Muffin Tops recipe!! :) it looks soo good!

    • Sara Stewart

      I’ll try to post it Monday! <3

  • Tara @ Sweat like a Pig

    Wow, I love cannolis! Totally drooling over here… I think occasional cheats are very acceptable :) I’m not sure I believe in any physical benefits like some proclaim, but I absolutely think there are psychological benefits from having once or twice weekly treats. I think not allowing cheats is too restrictive and is likely to lead down the path of disordered eating.

    I didn’t realise BFL was only full body workouts! That’s clearly targeted for beginners then. If you’re serious about training you should definitely be doing a 4- or 5-day split, even if you’re just isolating upper and lower body as opposed to individual body parts. I’ve always isolated individual body parts (chest, back, legs, arms, shoulders) and it’s given me great results – much better than if I just did a full body session three times a week. I haven’t done the Live Fit trainer but I have provided a lot of advice to a friend about it. I definitely think you should try it, but don’t add cardio back in just yet. You need to see some serious muscle gains first!

    • Sara Stewart

      Yeah, I’ve realized that isolating one or two body parts per session is going to be much more beneficial than completing total body workouts 3x’s/week. I think I’m going to go with Live Fit trainer, but would love to hear your thoughts about the program. Giving up cardio entirely is going to be *really* hard!

  • Stefanie

    Gosh, you are so right. Moderation absolutely means saying yes as much as you say no – that’s balance. Like you, I admire the dedication of those that never or rarely indulge – but for me, it’s good for the soul.

    My favorite dessert of all time? Hmm, that’s a tough one. But I’d go with a really delicious red velvet cupcake with vanilla frosting. Yum.

    • Sara Stewart

      Mmm…I LOVE red velvet cupcakes! (However I like cream cheese frosting!) :-) Has anyone successfully healthified this dessert? I think we should try to tackle it!

  • Meg Bailey

    Good for you! I probably break the rules a little TOO much, but I bet when our life is over, we won’t be wishing we DIDN’T eat froyo! It’s all about perspective.

    Favorite dessert would probably be cheesecake! Preferably with lemon curd. I try to eat pretty clean during the week and indulge a little on Saturday or Sunday. I almost always have a piece of chocolate a day though. 😉

    • Sara Stewart

      Meg, EXACTLY! When we’re sitting in our rocking chairs, we’re not going to look back on our 20’s and say, “gosh darnit, I wish I hadn’t enjoyed that ice cream sundae!” So silly. But we might say the opposite…I never want to regret depriving myself of the things I loved!

  • Meghan Cole

    I made something the other night that I thought tasted sort of like frozen yogurt/ice cream but didn’t include all of the sugar and carbs. (The husband said, “That does NOT taste like ice cream!” But what does he know? He can eat all the carbs he wants!)

    I froze a single container of carbsmart yogurt, then scooped it out of the container and whirled it around in a food processor with 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder until it was well blended. It wasn’t as thick as frozen yogurt, but it fit the bill!

    • Sara Stewart

      Oh my goodness, that sounds SO delicious! I’m going to have to try it! Where do you buy carbsmart yogurt?

  • Sarah

    Please post the recipe for the muffin tops soon! They look delicious!

    • Sara Stewart

      It’s coming next week!

  • Life’s a Bowl

    First, can you pretty please send me some homemade Banana Muffin Tops?!?! ;D

    Lately I’ve been loving fro-yo or cottage cheese concoctions for dessert… Light and creamy dairy + cereal + dark chocolate chips = YUM!

    Fave dessert of all time: chocolate lava cake… Now I want some haha 😛

    • Sara Stewart

      I would LOVE to send you some homemade muffin tops! However I think they’ll be much fresher and tastier if you make them at home and eat them warm out of the oven. 😉 Recipe coming soon! xoxo

      I’m so with you on cottage cheese dessert concoctions! I eat whipped cottage cheese mousse with peanut butter every night before bed!

  • Emily

    How is jello even on that list?! Can’t wait for the banana muffin top recipe – it looks amazing!

  • sarah

    I don’t even exercise :( Yes, I’m underweight…but binging is still not right…and late at night i binge on bread and chocolate…like, a lot, not just a little. And I dont’ exercise…I know i need to gain..but this still doesn’t seem right at all. :(

    • Sara Stewart

      Aww, try not to worry too much, Sarah! Your body needs that extra energy right now. But I know how you feel–I tend to eat a lot at night too (hello, chocolate!), so I’m trying my best to evenly space my calories throughout the day. It’s so hard to change eating habits (SO hard!), but you can do it! We’re in this together!

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